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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/47293/steel_curtain_fave.png 2020-02-18T07:30:00-05:00
Updated: 55 min 54 sec ago

Steelers Fact or Fiction: ‘AB’solutely all about the guy we should no longer talk about edition

1 hour 30 min ago
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

A BTSC author takes six bold statements surrounding Antonio Brown and the current state of the Steelers and labels them as Fact or Fiction.

I know, I know. We need to stop talking about this guy. But former Steeler Antonio Brown just cannot stay out of the news and BTSC is not doing it’s job if they stay quiet on it. After appearing on 93.7 (The Fan) last week and apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger again on social media this week, it seems like Brown is lobbying for a return to Pittsburgh. There are so many questions that have surfaced from this. One rogue BTSC writer has issued some bold statements on this topic and labels them as fact or fiction. Are his opinions on point? Only time will tell.

Antonio Brown’s best shot at redemption would be with the Steelers

Fact

You can never truly tell what’s going on in the mind of a man who posts social media video of himself throwing penis-shaped candy at the mother of his children , in front of said children. But It is obvious that the troubled WR wants back in the NFL and it might have dawned on him that mending fences in the zip code of his glory days may be the best bet. He may have been advised that the Steelers’ reputation in the league may help him with the league as well.

A Brown return would happen only on Ben Roethlisberger’s approval.

Fact

100%. That’s why Brown was issuing an apology this week to the man that he so openly disparaged over the past 14 months, that is until now. Ben Roethlisberger still has plenty of stroke in the organization and it seems like if he wanted Brown back for a shot at a ring, his endorsement would speak volumes.

The next football Brown will be playing will be in a prison yard.

Fiction

After his arrest in late January for alleged assault and burglary, (according to SI.com) Brown was released under a $110,000 bond and must also consent to a mental health evaluation, submit to drug and alcohol testing, wear a GPS monitor, relinquish his passport, forgo access to firearms, avoid contact with the truck driver he allegedly injured and stay out of legal trouble. If he violates any of these conditions, a judge could order him incarcerated while he awaits trial. While this seems like something Brown might be unable to comply with, it is enough to scare most people straight. There will be repercussions for his recent brush with the law, but probation and community service seem more likely than a prison sentence.

Brown would insist on huge money to return.

Fiction

It would be ill-advised to do so. Gummy Richard’s (Brown’s) best bet is to bet on himself with a prove-it deal with massive behavior and performance incentives. The cash-strapped Steelers could only do it in that manner for salary cap reasons and to protect themselves.

A good number of fans would welcome No. 84 back with open arms.

Fact

At the end of the day, fans want to see their team win. Many will compromise their principles for another Super Bowl ring. I think there are more fans with that philosophy than those that can’t forgive actions. We saw this with Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. While many were glad to see KC win for the first time in 50 years, I had a hard time rooting for Hill based on accounts of his indiscretions. There are some that have the same feelings towards Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis as well. Right or wrong, in AB’s case, I think a lot of fans will forgive and mostly forget if it means a championship.

Still, AB will never play for the Steelers again

Fact

After all of the disturbing allegations, the verbal damage that has been done and the team as a whole to think about, I just don’t see all of the planets aligning in Brown’s favor to see him ever don black-and-gold again.

Are these statements valid? We will soon see. Of course it is merely the author’s opinion, but what matters most is all of your opinions on the matter. Please state them in the comments below.

Podcast: Nobody wins when it comes to the Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph fiasco

2 hours 30 min ago

In the latest episode of “Steelers Q&A” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 took a weird turn when Myles Garrett ripped off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and bashed him on the head with it in Week 11. The rest is ugly history, but the story became headlines again when Garrett maintained that Rudolph used a racial slur upon having his suspension lifted. With the agent of the Steelers’ Quarterback threatening legal action, the situation gets even uglier. Can there be a winner in all of this, the fellas will discuss.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Q&A Show. On this show Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

Bryan Davis and Tony Defeo, of BTSC, walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Mike Tomlin throws water on those hot Antonio Brown return to Pittsburgh takes

3 hours 25 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Mike Tomlin, while on ESPN, really doused the Antonio Brown return to Pittsburgh rumors.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Well that was fun while it lasted. If you were someone who wanted to see Antonio Brown back in the black-and-gold, sorry for your luck.

Mike Tomlin: Steelers open to helping Antonio Brown – but not to signing him

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As Antonio Brown continues on an apparent effort to regain favor in the NFL in hopes of continuing his playing career in 2020, his former head coach said not to expect it to be in Pittsburgh.

During his ESPN “First Take” appearance ostensibly to stand up for Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also was asked about a possible reunion with Brown. Brown of course, starred for the Steelers for nine seasons before a trade to the Oakland Raiders last March. Since Brown was released by the Raiders and (after one game) the New England Patriots, been arrested and faced civil suits.

Although an ongoing NFL investigation hasn’t yet cleared Brown to play without first serving a possible suspension or other discipline, speculation has ensued about what teams might have interest in him.

The Steelers, per Tomlin, “at this time” are not one of them.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • ESPN has butchered the coverage of the Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph issues from the start.

Tim Benz: ESPN coverage of Myles Garrett vs. Mason Rudolph was a disgrace

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The only thing more maddening than the Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph situation has been ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” coverage of it.

It was biased, agenda-driven and, at times, vengeful.

Not just toward Rudolph. But toward the Steelers as well.

On Thursday, ESPN released a condensed version of an interview between Mina Kimes and the Cleveland Browns defensive star.

A few days before the interview aired, Garrett had been reinstated by the NFL after a season-ending suspension last year. The discipline was the result of Garrett pulling off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and then swinging it at the Steelers quarterback during a Nov. 14 game.

In the piece, Garrett reiterated his claim that Rudolph called him a racial slur prior to the helmet swing.

“He called me a ‘stupid n-word,’ ” Garrett told Kimes.

It’s a claim Garrett didn’t make until his appeal, days after the incident.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Taking a closer look at Myles Garrett’s explanation of the Mason Rudolph incident

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Whatever happens moving forward between Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, one thing is clear: Myles Garrett has told a story that he’ll have to own, if/when Rudolph files a defamation lawsuit.

In last week’s ESPN interview, which came only one day Garrett was reinstated by the NFL, Garrett locked in his own future testimony, if/when there’s a reason to testify.

“I go to take him down, he says some words as we’re going down,” Garrett said.

The video of the incident suggests a much more simple explanation for the provocation. Rudolph tried to remove Garrett’s helmet. Garrett didn’t like that, so he tried to remove Rudolph’s helmet. And succeeded. Then, when Rudolph charged at Garrett without a helmet, Garrett swung the helmet and struck Rudolph in the head.

So why is Garrett claiming that he heard a slur from Rudolph amid the scrum that played out? Without semi-plausible justification for Garrett’s extreme reaction, Garrett basically becomes the new Vontaze Burfict — a reckless rule-breaker who plays beyond the limits of the game and who has a short fuse. By claiming that Rudolph used a slur, Garrett’s explosion makes more sense.

What doesn’t make sense is Garrett’s attempt to explain the absence of audio evidence of the slur.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Mike Tomlin reacts to the allegations made against Mason Rudolph. pic.twitter.com/H2lkcu4YQY

— First Take (@FirstTake) February 17, 2020

#Colts-#Steelers — Minkah Fitzpatrick (pick-six)

• Read the QB as a post safety — Eyes will take you to the ball

• When the QB locks-in, open & break (get a jump on the throw)

• Overalp the seam route here @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/DdkVN49Ttn

— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 17, 2020

#OTD in 1983, Hall of Fame LB Jack Ham retired after an amazing 12-year career in Black & Gold. #SteelersHistory pic.twitter.com/Jdp1wm2Noc

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 17, 2020

Latest positional rankings show plenty of options for the Steelers

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 2:15pm
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers might not have a first round pick, but they certainly will have options when it comes to adding quality talent to their team in the upcoming draft process.

As the 2020 NFL Draft approaches Pittsburgh Steelers fans tend to get depressed. The reality of not having a first round pick can be depressing, even if they received an All-Pro player like Minkah Fitzpatrick in return for that first round pick.

What fans should realize is there is still plenty of talent in the pool for the Steelers to consider, even if their first pick isn’t until the second round. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks recently released his latest positional rankings, Top 5 at every position, and you quickly realize the Steelers will still have options.

It all comes down to positional needs for the black-and-gold. It is a safe assumption the following positions could be targets for the Steelers with their top pick.

Steelers team needs, in no particular order:

Running Back
Wide Receiver
Offensive Guard
Offensive Tackle
Tight End
Center

Once you look at the positions of need, and take a look at the rankings below, you have to see there will be plenty of players still on the board when the Steelers pick No. 18 in the second round.

Looking at the aforementioned positions, and then at the rankings below, who do you think will be available when the Steelers make their first pick of the draft, and which players would you like them to target?

Let us know in the comment section below this article, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for NFL Free Agency and the NFL Draft.

Quarterbacks

1. Tua Tagovailoa

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

2. Joe Burrow

School: LSU | Year: Senior (RS)

3. Justin Herbert

School: Oregon | Year: Senior

4. Jordan Love

School: Utah State | Year: Junior (RS)

5. Jacob Eason

School: Washington | Year: Junior (RS)

Running Backs

1. D’Andre Swift

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

School: LSU | Year: Junior

3. J.K. Dobbins

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

4. Cam Akers

School: Florida State | Year: Junior

5. Jonathan Taylor

School: Wisconsin | Year: Junior

Wide Receivers

1. Jerry Jeudy

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

2. CeeDee Lamb

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

3. Henry Ruggs III

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

4. Laviska Shenault

School: Colorado | Year: Junior

5. Tee Higgins

School: Clemson | Year: Junior

Tight Ends

1. Cole Kmet

School: Notre Dame | Year: Junior

2. Hunter Bryant

School: Washington | Year: Junior

3. Harrison Bryant

School: Florida Atlantic | Year: Senior

4. Adam Trautman

School: Dayton | Year: Senior (RS)

5. Jared Pinkney

School: Vanderbilt | Year: Senior (RS)

Offensive Tackles

1. Jedrick Wills

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

2. Tristan Wirfs

School: Iowa | Year: Junior

3. Andrew Thomas

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

4. Mekhi Becton

School: Louisville | Year: Junior

5. Joshua Jones

School: Houston | Year: Senior (RS)

Guards/Centers

1. Lloyd Cushenberry

School: LSU | Year: Junior (RS)

2. Tyler Biadasz

School: Wisconsin | Year: Junior (RS)

3. Netane Muti

School: Fresno State | Year: Junior (RS)

4. Matt Hennessy

School: Temple | Year: Junior (RS)

5. Robert Hunt

School: Louisiana-Lafayette | Year: Senior (RS)

Defensive Tackles

1. Derrick Brown

School: Auburn | Year: Senior

2. Javon Kinlaw

School: South Carolina | Year: Senior

3. Jordan Elliott

School: Missouri | Year: Junior (RS)

4. Ross Blacklock

School: TCU | Year: Junior (RS)

5. Justin Madubuike

School: Texas A&M | Year: Junior (RS)

EDGE/Outside Linebacker/Pass Rusher

1. Chase Young

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

2. A.J. Epenesa

School: Iowa | Year: Junior

3. Yetur Gross-Matos

School: Penn State | Year: Junior

4. Terrell Lewis

School: Alabama | Year: Junior (RS)

5. Curtis Weaver

School: Boise State | Year: Junior (RS)

Linebackers

1. Isaiah Simmons

School: Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)

2. Zack Baun

School: Wisconsin | Year: Senior (RS)

3. Kenneth Murray

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

4. Patrick Queen

School: LSU | Year: Junior

5. Akeem Davis-Gaither

School: Appalachian State | Year: Senior

Cornerbacks

1. Jeff Okudah

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

2. Trevon Diggs

School: Alabama | Year: Senior

3. Kristian Fulton

School: LSU | Year: Senior

4. C.J. Henderson

School: Florida | Year: Junior

5. Cameron Dantzler

School: Mississippi State | Year: Junior (RS)

Safety

1. Xavier McKinney

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

2. Grant Delpit

School: LSU | Year: Junior

3. Ashtyn Davis

School: Cal | Year: Senior (RS)

4. Kyle Dugger

School: Lenoir-Rhyne | Year: Senior

5. Antoine Winfield Jr.

School: Minnesota | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Steelers 2020 Free Agent Market Watch: The Outside Linebackers

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 12:35pm
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

BTSC takes a look at the top free agents at each position whether or not they are in the Steelers price range. Here are the OLBs living on the edge.

Disclaimer: The author realizes that the team is burning in Salary Cap Hell and can’t pony up much money for free agents. However, you never know what they have planned and it’s the author’s responsibility to highlight the free agent options. It’s like the lyric in the Joe Jackson song, “You Can’t Get What You Want”... Til you know what you want.

The Steelers have an uncertain situation when it comes to the position of Right Outside Linebacker. Bud Dupree could be franchise tagged or test the waters of free agency. Will they pony up a ton of money for the player that finally blossomed in Pittsburgh with 11.5 sacks, 17 QB hits, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries or do they draft one? If he walks, do they try to drum up money to bring in one through free agency? As unlikely as the prospect is, Kevin Colbert could get lucky under the couch cushions. Here the list of available free agents should the Steelers find themselves able to shop come March.

Shaq Barrett - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2019 Stats - 16 games, 19.5 sacks, 37 QB hits, 6 forced fumbles, 0 fumble recoveries

A disappointment in Denver, Barrett had a career year for the Bucs in 2019 by finishing just a half-a-sack shy of 20. He was pretty good in run support as well. Barrett, if not franchised, will break the bank in free agency. Definitely not an option for the Steelers.

Dante Fowler - Los Angeles Rams

2019 Stats - 16 games, 11.5 sacks, 16 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery

Like Dupree, Fowler didn’t break out until the end of his rookie deal. However, the third-overall selection of the Jags in 2015 was traded to the Rams in 2018 and blossomed his first full year in Los Angeles with the same amount of sacks as Bud. If the price isn’t right to keep Dupree, Fowler won’t be an alternative.

Kyler Fackrell - Green Bay Packers

2019 Stats - 16 games, 1 sack, 10 QB hits, 0 forced fumbles, 0 fumble recoveries

Fackrell had 10.5 sacks in 2018, but the Utah State product did not start a single contest in 2019 due to the signings of Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith. The 28-year old knows how to get the passer and could be a low cost option to replace Dupree.

Matt Judon - Baltimore Ravens

2019 Stats - 16 games, 9.5 sacks, 33 QB hits, 4 forced fumbles, 0 fumble recoveries

Following the departures of Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs, Judon became a devastating pass rusher for the Ravens defense. Like the Steelers with Dupree, the Ravens could put the franchise tag on Judon for about $16 million. Baltimore has more cap room to do so for the player that was fourth in the league with 33 QB hits, almost double that of Bud. If the Steelers can’t afford Bud, Judon will be out of range as well.

Yannick Ngakoue - Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Stats - 15 games, 8 sacks, 15 QB hits, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery

Man, what I wouldn’t do to hear yinzers try and pronounce this 24-year old’s surname. A bargain as a third-rounder for the Maryland Terps in 2016, Ngakoue has become a devastating pass rusher for the Jags. The young edge rusher fits better in a 3-4 defense, but might not fit under the cap in Pittsburgh.

Other Notable Free Agent Outside Linebackers

Markus Golden - New York Giants

Jordan Jenkins - New York Jets

Vic Beasley - Atlanta Falcons

Aaron Lynch - Chicago Bears

Terrell Suggs - Kansas City Chiefs

Mike Tomlin takes to ESPN to defend Mason Rudolph and send shots at the sports network

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 11:47am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach made a rare pubic television appearance on ESPN, and made sure he made his thoughts and feelings known to the viewing audience.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin appeared on ESPN’s first take Monday morning to defend quarterback Mason Rudolph against the allegations brought up against him again over the weekend. Tomlin spoke with Stephen A. Smith about the situation and his reaction to the reiteration of the allegations this past weekend.

“I took offense to it to be quite honest with you.” Tomlin stated. “We’ve had a desire to move on from the moment it happened. That’s what we attempted to do. When this interview came back up this weekend, we thought Mason needed to be defended.”

As much as Tomlin would like to move on from the situation, when Myles Garrett took the opportunity to go on ESPN with, as Rudolph called it, an “attempt to assassinate his character”, Tomlin felt there were multiple pieces of the story which were not being reported. Tomlin took great offense to the panel on ESPN’s Outside The Lines and how they failed to mention the conclusion of the investigation by the NFL.

“These accusations are serious. Not only in terms of Mason Rudolph’s character, but his professional pursuits. Nobody on that field, as a member of the Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers corroborated what Myles Garrett said. That was founded by us and the National Football League.”

Tomlin went on to explain how the story concocted later by Garrett didn’t fit into how these situations usually transpire following an incident of this nature.

“I was on the field immediately after that altercation and subsequently after the game. I’ve got a lot of personal relationships within that organization over there in Cleveland. At no point did anyone within that organization come forward and say, ‘Mike, heads up, we’ve got a situation here,’ or something of that nature that you would expect that comes with those type of allegations.”

Tomlin continued his frustrations towards the rehashing of the story and ESPN’s handling of the situation over the weekend.

“I fully support Mason Rudolph. We, as an organization, fully support Mason Rudolph. To be quite honest with you, we were hacked off with what we saw this weekend.”

Tomlin made sure he continued to raise the point that the Steelers we compliant with the NFL and their investigation of the incident which concluded there was no evidence to support Garrett’s claim.

“We received word from those guys (The NFL) and we took them at their word that a thorough investigation was done and no evidence was founded.”

When asked about Rudolph’s punishment from the incident, Tomlin implied that, even though he had his role in the altercation, Rudolph has been blamed for more than what actually took place.

“It’s been a lot of negativity around Mason Rudolph. He got fined $50k for essentially getting beat up. His reputation was tarnished because of the allegations, none of which was founded. He was a quarterback in the losing circumstances at the end of a football game. Obviously, he was an active participant in the altercation, but a lot of the things that have gone on beyond that, I struggle with.”

Tomlin was asked about another allegation by Garrett in which the Steelers and the NFL had evidence supporting his claim but have been working together to suppress it. Tomlin called the notion of being part of a cover up “laughable” before answering the question of how the Steelers would handle the the accusation if it was true.

“We would not participate in the covering up of such issues, and we would obviously do what is appropriate in dealing with those circumstances.”

As for the course of actions Mason Rudolph could take from a legal standpoint, Tomlin did not wish to comment on what Rudolph and his legal team deem to be necessary for the situation. Instead, Tomlin offered up support for continuing to defend Rudolph.

“I think his reputation needs to be defended and defended aggressively.”

To see the full interview, see the video below:

Why Browns TE David Njoku should be on the Steelers’ radar

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 9:30am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Steelers need help at the tight end position, but could it come from within the AFC North division?!

Tight end Vance McDonald could be one of the biggest salary cap casualties for the Pittsburgh Steelers before the 2020 season kicks off in March. McDonald has been a disappointment since the trade that brought him over from the San Francisco 49ers prior to the 2017 season. Jettisoning the former Rice standout for Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku just makes sense.

In three seasons with the Steelers, the seven-year pro has missed nine of a possible 48 regular season games. This is not surprising with his lengthy injury riddled history. The bothersome parts are his salary and his production. In 2017, his cap hit was reasonable at $2.6 million, but the 14 receptions were a major disappointment. The 2018 season was different with career highs in receptions and yards compared to his $2.1 million cap hit. The problem is, that season might just have been the pinnacle of his career. In 2019, McDonald regressed with 38 receptions for 273 yards and a career low 7.2 yards per reception. Terrible numbers considering his $5.8 million cap hit.

McDonald carries a cap hit of $7.1 million in 2019 while leaving a meager $1.5 million in dead cap behind. He is just too expensive for his production and injury history. This is where Njoku enters the picture.

Njoku, the 29th overall draft pick in the 2017 draft had a mundane rookie season with 32-387-4 stat line in 16 games. His 2018 season was the breakout the Cleveland Browns had been hoping for. The former Miami Hurricanes broke out for 56-639-4 stat line in 16 games with 14 starts. The 2019 season was a forgettable one. In Week 2, Njoku broke his wrist and was placed on injured reserve designated for return. Even though he started practicing on November 20th, he was not activated until December 7th. His first return to game action was frustrating for the 6-4 246 pounder where he saw just 21 snaps and nine routes run with three targets and one reception.

The next two weeks, Njoku was a healthy scratch and finished the season in Week 17 with zero targets. While the Browns have brought in a new coaching staff, the 5-41-1 line also showed a clear disconnect with franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield.

As Njoku is a first rounder, the Browns (or another team) have until May 30th to exercise their fifth year option for the 2021 season. (The salary is guaranteed for injury only.) This leaves the Browns plenty of time to mend bridges or find a trading partner such as the Steelers. His 2020 cap hit is a reasonable cap hit of $3 million.

Take into account his pedigree, relatively cheap 2020 cap hit, his potential which is amplified by his 2018 season, to go along with the Browns probably taking an early day three draft pick and you have a player who checks all the boxes for the Steelers. GM Kevin Colbert may have to perform some draft day magic to acquire a third rounder high enough that would be acceptable by new Browns GM Andrew Berry.

The Steelers are in dire straights with their cap situation. Colbert’s approach of restructuring contracts and kicking cap hits down the down has finally caught up with the team. Colbert will have to get creative to fill holes by cap casualties and solidify a position that has been in flux since the retirement of Heath Miller. Njoku could be that player. Do the new Browns regime see Njoku as a fixture for their young offense or an expendable cog? While some in Steeler Nation have pipe dreams of landing Austin Hooper, others want to bring in Tyler Eifert (Those fans clearly do not remember the Ladarius Green debacle.) I for one would like to see the Steelers pry Njoku away from their division rivals.

Mock Draft Monday: The Steelers look to add a wide receiver with their top pick

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to CBSSports.com, the Steelers should pass on their choice of tight end to take the ninth best receiver

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season has now been over for more than a month, so it’s time to get into the off-season mindset. Although free agency comes first on the calendar before the 2020 NFL Draft, the NFL Combine will occur before either of them. With that said, it might be nice to have an idea as to some of the names associated with the Steelers in the second round. The Steelers’ first round pick has already been named an All-Pro player as Minkah Fitzpatrick can be thought of as the Steelers’ choice. So let’s look at prospects who may be available at the 49th selection and see what they could bring the the Steelers in 2020.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the off-season. Hare are some of the projected positions of need for the Steelers in no particular order:

Wide Receiver
Running Back
Offensive Line
EDGE Rusher
Tight End

There could be other positions added to the list, but when it comes to what position the team will target with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest three-round mock draft by cbssports.com, they have the Steelers addressing the wide receiver position before anything else. While I believe the Steelers will look to fill bigger needs with their first pick in the draft, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the pick:

49. Pittsburgh Steelers | K.J. Hamler| WR | Penn State | SOPH |

As many players are declaring their eligibility and preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, there are plenty of players most fans have not seen play in 2019. Since this is the case, here is a breakdown of Hamler according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Route Tree - Love his wiggle and false breaks, he’s constantly lying to defenders with head fakes and fluid frame to sell a hard break before whipping back across his frame. Has navigated MOF traffic fairly well and does well to break to daylight with burst through top of routes. Can win most with space to threaten 360 degrees.

Hands - There are some instances of body catching, not super surprising giving his stature. He’s got good concentration and does haul in majority of targets that get into his catch radius, even if he’s not all hands. He’ll revert to the chest to dig out low throws instead of plucking with hands turned over.

Contested Catch Ability - This isn’t a primary trait but he’s got enough to work with here that he’ll win his fair share of reps. Isn’t going to box anyone out but his body adjustment and spring will give him some chances to adjust late and elevate to the football. Catch radius isn’t exceptionally large, however.

RAC Ability - Electric. This might be the best thrill ride in the 2020 draft. His open field vision is top shelf and once he’s broken to daylight he’s rarely roped back in. He’s got dynamic quickness and lightning fast feet, can stop on a dime, gracefully leap over trash at his feet and quickly get himself back up to top speed.

Football IQ - He’ll be well served to find some more physicality in his game and exposure to boundary reps and winning vs. press is going to be a work in progress. His play making skills are evident pretty quick on film and he’s got a lot of nuance to how he attacks defensive backs on his route stems.

Vertical Receiving Skills - Slippery. If he’s given room to run, he’s got potential to run past defenders to get behind the safety. His acceleration and burst vs. off coverage will eat ground quickly and he can stress SAFs who draw him in the MOF. His ball skills over the shoulder aren’t fully consistent but he didn’t get a lot of accurate targets here.

Change of Direction Ability - Human joystick — pretty stellar to watch him stop, start, pivot, start again and break four pursuit angles all on the same play. He’s got a ton of spring and foot speed, showcasing dynamic lower half to plant and drive at steep angles. He’s a “hold your breath on every play” presence in the open field.

Speed - Does he have elite long speed? Perhaps. He’s got plenty of juice and his initial burst is very strong, allowing him to close ground quickly and get defenders on their heels. He’s got effective vertical separation skills but will get bottlenecked against physical defenders so releases become super important to his game.

Competitive Toughness - He’s lean. Plenty of room to fill himself out, but at what cost to some of his special skills? He plays tough and scrappy but he’s not dictating physical terms to anyone in the secondary or at the LOS. Must win with finesse and quickness, which shouldn’t be a problem. But more patient or quick footed defenders can get into his grill a bit.

Blocking Ability - Lack of length, lack of strength and lack of anchor will box him into a role that avoids setting the hook to the D-gap. He’s willing and when working backside cut off he’ll get inside positioning well enough to stuff up defensive flow. But don’t ask him to play point man on screens or crack down on LBs.

---

Best Trait - Route Running

Worst Trait - Physicality

Best Film - Michigan (2019)

Worst Film - Ohio State (2019)

Red Flags - None

Summary - KJ Hamler projects as a dynamic complimentary WR in the NFL. Hamler’s lack of physicality likely pegs him as a primary slot receiver, but there’s never been a better time to be a slot in the NFL. Hamler has the route running and run after catch skills to command a high percentage of targets in an NFL offense and his short area quickness will make him a handful to account for on routes run near the sticks. Still young and can afford to add a bit of mass but he’s got a clear path to impact.

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Hamler with their first pick, albeit in the second round? Or should the team target another position/player at that spot? Or are you like me and, even though I like the player, would prefer to see the Steelers address a different position with their top pick? Let us know in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.

The NFL would have nothing to gain by covering up a racial slur by Steelers QB Mason Rudolph

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 6:34am
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

What would benefit the NFL more? Protecting a racist Mason Rudolph or providing Myles Garrett, a man who committed one of the most violent on-field acts in recent memory, with an excuse that may have justified his actions in the eyes of many? If Garrett is to be believed, it’s the former.

The ugly incident that took place in the final seconds of a game between the Steelers and Browns last November 14 at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium has been brought back into the spotlight in recent days.

If you’ll recall (and who can really forget it?), a nasty fight broke out between Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett, when Garrett took Rudolph to the turf on a short pass play at the end of a game Cleveland was leading by two touchdowns.

Rudolph took exception to this, and the two went at it in a fight that ultimately resulted in Garrett ripping Rudolph’s helmet off and bashing him over the head with it.

This led to multiple fines and suspensions—including a three-game suspension for center Maurkice Pouncey who violently came to Rudolph’s defense by attacking Garrett (the suspension was reduced to two games upon appeal) and an indefinite suspension for Garrett through at least the rest of the 2019 regular season and postseason.

The reason the Ugly Brawl At The Mistake By The Lake has come back into the spotlight in recent days is because Garrett’s indefinite suspension has been lifted and he’s now eligible to play again in 2020.

Another unfortunate reason the violent brawl has been called back onto the stage of public debate is because Garrett, who stated during his appeal last November that a racial slur directed at him by Rudolph was the reason he lost all reason, doubled down on that accusation during an interview for ESPN’s Behind The Lines that aired Saturday morning. Not only did Garrett accuse Rudolph of calling him a ‘stupid n-word’ at some point during or after he took the quarterback to the turf, he implied that the NFL covered up any audio evidence that may have existed.

Below is a quote from the Garrett interview, courtesy of Cleveland.com, where he implies that a cover-up took place:

“Most quarterbacks wear mics in their helmets. He somehow lost his helmet and had to get another one without a mic. There were guys who were mic’d up near me—near us—during that time who didn’t hear anything, and from what I’ve heard, there [may] have been audio during that game that could’ve heard something or could not have heard something, but they don’t want to say.”

“So something was said,” Garrett continues. “I know something was said. Now whether the NFL wants to acknowledge it, that’s up to them.”

To sum up what Garrett is saying: Nobody actually heard Rudolph utter this racial slur, Rudolph didn’t have a helmet with a mic (by the way, how does Garrett know that?), the microphones the other players were wearing may have picked up the audio, but the NFL won’t admit that such evidence could exist and is covering for Rudolph. (To put it in deadbeat tenant terms, Garrett mailed his rent—postage stamp and everything—but the post office must have lost it.)

That’s quite the stretch, even for a man of Garrett’s size and reach.

It’s too bad Garrett isn’t a journalist, because I would demand to know his sources.

As for the racial slant to this whole thing—you know the part that may haunt Rudolph for the rest of his life?—Garrett had this to say:

“But I don’t want to make it a racial thing, honestly. It’s over with for me, and I’m pretty sure it’s over with for Mason, so we just want to move past it and keep on playing football.”

Garrett also said in the interview that any racial slur uttered by Rudolph was no justification for what he did—smashing him over the head with a helmet.

Please.

If he didn’t want to make it about race, he wouldn’t have made it about race. If there was no justification for his actions, no excuse—not even that he was on the receiving end of the very worst of all racial slurs—would have been offered up for why he committed a violent act that could have potentially killed another human being.

The accusation is clearly an attempt to justify his actions.

As for a cover-up? That really makes no sense.

What would benefit the NFL more: Protecting a low-profile backup quarterback such as Mason Rudolph by burying audio evidence that he called another player the n-word or providing Myles Garrett, one of its up and coming defensive stars—a potential multi-time Defensive Player of the Year—with perhaps the ultimate excuse for why he almost committed manslaughter on national television?

No, it wouldn’t have prevented a lengthy suspension, but it would have opened the door for public support and sympathy to come flooding Garrett’s way.

Why would the league be so afraid to expose Rudolph for being a racist—or at least using that particular slur? We’re not talking about a sacred cow like Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. We’re talking about a backup quarterback who may never be more than a fringe player for the entirety of his career.

Protecting a racist backup quarterback at the expense of an up-and-coming defensive superstar seems like quite a strange sword for the NFL to fall on.

Is Garrett suggesting the league is simply afraid to broach the subject of race? That subject is broached every time someone brings up the fact that there aren’t many minority head coaches and executives. That subject is broached every time a player kneels during the National Anthem in an attempt to raise awareness of racial issues.

The NFL doesn’t shy away from the subject in those cases, why would it now, for Mason Rudolph?

The NFL could have severely punished Rudolph for hurling a racial slur at one of its stars and used it as a shining example that there is no place in its league for such hate.

The whole thing smells bad to me, and the odor seems to be coming from Garrett’s direction. Fortunately for him, his exceptional talent will allow him to put this all behind him and go on and have a stellar NFL career. As for Rudolph? Unfortunately for him, he’s likely not going to have the kind of career that will make people forget that such an accusation was leveled against him.

People will always wonder.

Someone is lying, of course. If it’s Garrett, I just hope he comes clean before his accusation becomes a permanent stain on Rudolph’s legacy.

Myles Garrett may be ready to move on, but Mason Rudolph may never get that chance.

Podcast: Devin Bush’s upside is something to get excited about

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “Home and Hater” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over, and the Steelers lost their final game by losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, ending their record at 8-8.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Home and Hater Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Highlighting Devin Bush and his trajectory
  • Week in Review
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
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If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: 3 players getting back to health in 2020 could make all the difference

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 4:32am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at if just three players get healthy, and stay healthy, it could be the difference between contender and pretender for the Steelers in 2020.

Let’s get to the news:

  • 3 players is all it could take. Really? Yes, really.

Return to health by 3 skill players could benefit Steelers in 2020

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers expect a healthy Ben Roethlisberger to cure many – but not all — of the offensive problems that plagued the team in 2019.

The NFL Draft can address other weaknesses, and general manager Kevin Colbert isn’t discounting a return to health by three of the Steelers’ top skill position players.

Injuries to running back James Conner, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and tight end Vance McDonald also contributed to the Steelers having one of their worst offensive seasons in franchise history.

With those three skill position players missing a combined 12 games to injury, the Steelers finished No. 29 in rushing, No. 31 in receiving and No. 27 in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game while finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Was Myles Garrett’s verbal accusations worse than the helmet swinging?

John Steigerwald: Myles Garrett’s verbal attack on Steelers’ Mason Rudolph worse than helmet hit

By: John Steigerwald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jussie Smollett called. He said he believes Myles Garrett.

You remember Smollett, he’s the gay black actor who claimed he was attacked in the middle of the night on a Chicago street by two white guys wearing MAGA hats, who used racial and homophobic slurs while putting a noose around his neck and dousing him with bleach.

Most of the media came to his defense, and Smollett even managed to cry during an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.” Roberts came close to crying, too.

Of course, it was a hate-crime hoax and just last week Smollett was indicted on six felony counts of disorderly conduct. The city of Chicago also would like Smollett to pay $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • A sad story about the former Steelers wide receiver.

Eli Rogers playing XFL game on day of mother’s funeral

By: Michael David Smith

DC Defenders wide receiver Eli Rogers is playing today’s XFL game with a heavy heart.

Rogers’ mother died this week and her funeral is today, according to the ABC broadcast of today’s game.

Rogers chose to play, and on the first drive he played very well, catching all three of the passes thrown to him and gaining 50 yards as the Defenders marched down the field and scored a touchdown on their opening possession.

The 27-year-old Rogers had a very promising season as a rookie with the Steelers in 2016, catching 48 passes for 594 yards. But he couldn’t match that production in 2017 or 2018, and he was released before the start of he 2019 season.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

"Minkah Fitzpatrick is a serious upgrade - physically and mentally."@merrilhoge breaks down film from @minkfitz_21's first year in Pittsburgh.

FULL : https://t.co/1wlpUlTnMU pic.twitter.com/1dWYuTDua3

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 17, 2020

Stay off the road when The Bus is coming through.@JeromeBettis36 pic.twitter.com/UoAIoYrPLH

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 16, 2020

Watch the worst take of all hot takes regarding Ben Roethlisberger

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 8:13pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

When you think you’ve heard the dumbest comments ever, someone says something like this about Ben Roethlisberger.

I get it. It is the slow season for the National Football League. Post Super Bowl and pre-NFL Free Agency can crawl along like a snail, and because of this many outlets have to try and find unique twists/takes on regurgitated content to seem “fresh”.

We all have to do it, including this website, but some take it to new extremes almost every year. Whether it is Ian Rapoport spouting off about Ben Roethlisberger leaving the team years ago, or now Thomas Davis, linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers, stating Roethlisberger could have come back in 2019 but quit on his team.

I’m not joking.

Just watch the video below:

Ben Roethlisberger had season ending elbow surgery last september. He still hasn't been cleared to throw a football. But @ThomasDavisSDTM thinks Big Ben quit on the Steelers in 2019 and he really could have come back. This is whack pic.twitter.com/wcEB8DgVar

— #24 was my GOAT (@ViewsFromThe50) February 16, 2020

February 21st is the date Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was told was the next key appointment on Ben Roethlisberger’s calendar. General Manager Kevin Colbert said the same thing when he met with local media this past week. This appointment will be when Ben Roethlisberger will find out if he can begin to throw objects as he attempts to come back from his first season-ending injury.

But, Thomas Davis, let’s ignore facts.

It is this type of content which drives fans away from major media outlets, and hopefully they find their home with people who only follow and cover the Steelers, from a fan perspective.

With that said, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they press on towards NFL Free Agency and the 2020 NFL Draft.

Let’s be honest, the XFL is inferior to college football

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 11:25am
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The XFL may have better players than Division I college football (although, that’s highly debatable), but one is small-time professional football, while the other is the very best college football has to offer. That’s why it’s a weak comparison to make by people trying to convince you to watch the XFL.

It’s Week 2 of the 2020 XFL reboot. Can you feel the excitement?

In fairness, the ratings for last week’s official re-launch of Vince McMahon’s vision of a professional football league (this vision doesn’t include him actually acting like Mr. McMahon) drew fairly decent ratings. As reported by Houstonchronicle.com, the league drew an average of around three million viewers per game for FOX and ESPN.

Not bad and not surprising, considering it was pretty much on par with what the AAF drew last season on its opening weekend.

Can it be sustained? That remains to be seen, but it’s likely going to be an uphill battle.

If you like it, great. As I said last week in my original article about the XFL, I might eventually come around to watching it on a weekly basis. I might get into the top players, the rules and even the quality of play. But it’s going to have to be completely organic.

I just wish people would stop trying to sell me on the idea.

Like, for example, did you know the XFL is superior to college football in terms of the quality of players?

Why is it superior? Is it simply because all of these guys—many of whom never had more than a cup of coffee with the NFL—are out of college eligibility? Does completing your collegiate career turn you into the football version of Superman, where your skills are automatically superior to everyone else’s once you visit Earth? (Kind of a bad analogy, but you get it, right? OK, if you don’t get it, college football is Earth, where all the players have mortal abilities, while professional football is the planet Krypton, where even its most average inhabitants can squash any college player.)

If you want to use that rationale, I guess I kind of get it. But even if that were true—the average XFL team could squash the average collegiate team—it wouldn’t matter.

It’s not necessarily about the players. It’s about the brands. And big-time college football is a superior brand to minor league professional football.

FBS college football is so popular because people want to see the very best that brand of football has to offer. It’s why so many stadiums in the SEC and Big Ten have a seating capacity that hovers around 100,000. That’s why the television contracts for those conferences are so lucrative.

If you notice, people aren’t going out of their way to catch college football games at the Division II, Division III and NAIA level. Why? Each offers an inferior product to Division I college football.

When people tune into see professional football at the XFL or AAF level, they know they’re getting the Division II, Division III or NAIA version of it. They know it’s a vastly inferior brand to that of the NFL.

Could an XFL team led by Landry Jones defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide or Penn State Nittany Lions? It’s impossible to say, but I know the team whose fans scream “Roll Tide!” or “We Are!” would be the more popular one on game day.

Trying to compare college football to the XFL is like trying to compare oranges to those candied orange slices. Yes, an actual orange may be better for you and certainly more nutritional, but, damn it, when you want candied orange slices, you want candied orange slices.

If the XFL really wants people to buy into its product, it has to become the super skim milk of professional football. Yes, most people want whole milk (in this case, that would be the NFL), but if you drink super skim long enough, you might discover that, while it may not have everything whole milk does, you enjoy consuming it just as much if not more.

Be the super skim milk of professional football, XFL.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 NFL Draft class considered the best in the AFC North

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 10:05am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When comparing 2019 draft classes, the Steelers were graded the highest of all four teams.

The 2019 NFL season is officially in the books, and while many are looking head to 2020 NFL Free Agency and the NFL Draft, it is worth looking back to last season’s rookie class and seeing how the group as a collective did.

In a recent article by NFL.com’s Nick Shook, he ranked all draft classes for every NFL division. For the AFC North, the Steelers took the top grade among the four teams who call the AFC North home.

Check out the grade Shook gave the Steelers’ 2019 draft class, headlined by inside linebacker Devin Bush:

Pittsburgh Steelers — B+

Round 1: (No. 10 overall) Devin Bush, LB, 16 games/15 starts.
Round 3: (66) Diontae Johnson, WR, 16 games/12 starts; (83) Justin Layne, CB, 10 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (122) Benny Snell Jr., RB, 13 games/2 starts.
Round 5: (141) Zach Gentry, TE, 4 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (175) Sutton Smith, OLB, 0 games/0 starts (now with Seahawks); (192) Isaiah Buggs, DT, 9 games/0 starts; (207) Ulysees Gilbert III, LB, 7 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (219) Derwin Gray, OT, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings: Devlin Hodges, QB, 8 games/6 starts.

The Steelers’ trade up to select Bush was worth it, proven by his fine rookie play. Bush recorded 109 tackles, four passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He’s a stud. A+ for that. The third round provided some value to Pittsburgh in the form of Johnson, who saw additional playing time due to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s injury issues and caught 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes a bigger leap in his second season with Ben Roethlisberger back under center. Layne projected to perhaps answer the Steelers’ long-running question at cornerback, but he didn’t play a defensive snap in 2019, spending his entire time on special teams. Snell, however, flirted with a 4-yards-per-carry average on his 108 attempts, gaining 426 yards and making two trips to the end zone. He’s a worthy backup to James Conner. Gentry saw very little action and caught just one pass in 2019. Smith is now with the Seahawks. Buggs made an occasional rotational contribution, and Gilbert spent his season on special teams. Gray spent 2019 on the practice squad and was signed to a futures contract. The undrafted Hodges initially arose from afterthought who’d beaten out Joshua Dobbs for a roster spot to the symbol of hope for Pittsburgh, though his struggles down the stretch contributed to the Steelers missing the playoffs for a second straight season.

Combine/free agency focus: Joe Haden had an excellent year, but it’s time to start thinking about life after the 30-year-old corner. Pittsburgh spent a third-rounder on Layne last April, and could use another selection this draft on a quality prospect. Mason Rudolph proved he can’t be relied on, as did (ultimately) Hodges, meaning the first pick Pittsburgh owns could be spent on a quarterback. Big Ben turns 38 in March and is currently rehabbing from a serious elbow injury. Another thing to think about: the future at center beyond 30-year-old Maurkice Pouncey. Not an immediate need, but something to consider. Pittsburgh sent its first-round pick to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick, so the expectations in the draft should be lowered slightly. With less than $2 million in projected cap space for 2020 at the moment, per Over The Cap, there are going to be a couple of cap casualties (looking at you, Mark Barron). Expect most additions to be made via the draft.

If you are curious how the other three AFC North teams were graded, check out the grades below:

Other AFC North Grades:

Baltimore Ravens — B
Cleveland Browns — B
Cincinnati Bengals — C+

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie class, like all other NFL draft classes, are still a work in progress. Players like Justin Layne are still a giant question mark, but if you wait until their rookie contract, 4 years, expires you will have a better idea as to whether the pick was a boom, or a bust.

Of the Steelers’ rookies who saw significant time in 2019, mainly Devin Bush, Diontae Johnson, Isaiah Buggs and Benny Snell Jr., there is promise with them being players for the team in the future. No, they all won’t be tremendous players, but they can contribute to the overall cause and help the Steelers win football games.

With 2019 now in the history books, how do you view the Steelers’ draft class? Do you think the B+ grade is spot on? Or do you think it is too high, or too low? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2020 league year.

Statistically, JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the least likely receivers to fumble in Steelers history

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 8:39am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Criticized for his untimely fumbles the last two seasons, it is very rare that Smith-Schuster coughs up the ball

For over a year now I have heard some Steelers fans complain about JuJu Smith-Schuster and his tendency to fumble the ball. Last off-season it came due to his fumble at the end of the game against the New Orleans Saints. Adding in the overtime fumble against the Baltimore Ravens in 2019, there have been two games in which the outcome was greatly determined by Smith-Schuster putting the ball on the turf.

It can’t be denied both of these fumbles were at key moments of two very close and important games. To say the fumble lost the Steelers the game would be difficult to dispute. But these are also the only two career fumbles for JuJu Smith-Schuster in the NFL. While some fans have labeled Smith Schuster a “fumbler,” where he stands statistically in Steelers history does not support this label at all.

In looking at career fumbles with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger leads the way with 106. Breaking them down to 99 regular season fumbles paired with seven postseason fumbles, Roethlisberger only holds the record by a narrow margin. Franco Harris had exactly 100 fumbles with the Steelers with 90 in the regular season and 10 in the playoffs. Franco played a total of 175 games with the Steelers, so his fumbles occurred, on average, at least every other game.

As for JuJu, he has 2 fumbles in 43 career games. Looking just a regular season statistics, it ends up being two fumbles in 212 touches. Just to clarify, a touch is considered either a reception or a rushing attempt.

In the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, of all the players that have had at least 200 touches, JuJu is tied with Jonathan Dwyer and Yancey Thigpen with only two fumbles. The only people who have had less fumbles were four players who had zero: Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, Warren Keller, Bill Karcis, and Dick Riffle. If you are unfamiliar with the last three names on this list, they were all running back who played for the Steelers prior to 1942.

If looking just at wide receivers and tight ends, of the players with at least 200 touches with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only player with fewer fumbles per touch is Yancey Thigpen. The only difference in the two players is Thigpen had 224 touches versus Smith-Schuster‘s 212. So if JuJu can catch at least 13 more passes without fumbling the ball, he will become the all-time receiver who is least likely to fumble the ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers out of qualifying players. This means all the Steelers’ great receivers such as Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Hines Ward, Louis Lipps, Antonio Brown, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, and so on all fumbled more per touch than JuJu. Looking at the players listed, all of them had double-digit fumbles while with the Steelers with the exception of Miller who had eight.

So while there is no denying the two career fumbles of JuJu Smith-Schuster have been very costly, to say he coughs up the ball often would be incorrect. Averaging just one fumble for every 100 receptions, the biggest thing Smith-Schuster can do is make sure he is holding onto the ball in the most key situations.

Report: Bryan McClendon out of the running for Steelers WR coach

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 6:47am
Photo by Jamie Gilliam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The South Carolina gamecocks have reported McClendon will be staying on their staff for the 2020 college season

According to GamecockCentral.com, wide receiver coach Bryan McClendon is staying at the University of South Carolina and is no longer in the running for the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coaching position. .

#Gamecocks wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon is staying on staff despite flirtations from the NFL plus we have the latest on South Carolina's staff structure and next expected hire https://t.co/oIUnB6FrKS

— GamecockCentral.com (@GamecockCentral) February 14, 2020

It was reported last weekend that McClendon was the choice of the Steelers. It is unclear if the Steelers offered McClendon the position and he declined or if the Steelers had not reached a decision. Regardless, it appears as if McClendon is staying in the college ranks.

On Friday, Jerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the decision was down to McClendon and former Steelers’ wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for the position. If Dulac’s report is accurate, the Steelers should be announcing their new wide receivers coach this week.

Steelers expected to sign a WR coach "any day now," per source. Appears to be down to two -- former Steelers WR Jerricho Cotchery and former South Carolina off coordinator Bryan McClendon.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 13, 2020

Cotchery began his career with the New York Jets for seven seasons before joining the Steelers in 2011. After a career-high 10 touchdown receptions in 2013, Cotchery went on to finish his NFL career with two seasons in Carolina playing for the Panthers.

Whoever is hired as the wide receivers coach for the Steelers in 2020, they will be taking over a very young group which has no one on the roster who is beyond their rookie contract. The Steelers have a vacancy at the wide receiver coaching position due to the unfortunate passing of Coach Darryl Drake in 2019. After losing coach Drake during training camp, coach Ray Sherman took over the position on an interim basis.

Podcast: Is a return to Pittsburgh in the cards for Antonio Brown??

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 5:47am

The Steelers season is over, so we ask a really tough question — is a return to Pittsburgh in line for Antonio Brown?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have long since moved on from Antonio Brown, but since his past transgressions, and his apologies, could a return to the Steel City be in the works?

This is a tough question, and one where they can be multiple responses/answers to. This is going to be the talking point in the latest podcast.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and Lance Williams puts it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section below!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Steelers trying to navigate through “unique situation” with Ryan Shazier

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 5:05am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers are going to try and navigate through the unique situation which is Ryan Shazier.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Ryan Shazier still wants to play football, whether you like it or not. And the Steelers want to handle his next contract the right way.

Steelers want injured LB Ryan Shazier to return while dealing with ‘unique situation’

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Ryan Shazier has not played in the NFL for two seasons as he rehabilitates from spinal stabilization surgery, and there is no indication the Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker is ready to come back to the field in 2020.

Still, the Steelers continue to support Shazier’s comeback as they try to figure out how he fits on the team’s roster.

“It’s a unique situation,” general manager Kevin Colbert said Thursday when he met with select members of the media.

Team president Art Rooney said in January that Shazier’s contract from 2019 will not toll even though he spent a second consecutive season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

“We’d love to have Ryan back in some capacity,” Rooney said.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Mason Rudolph’s lawyer strongly hints that Myles Garrett will be sued

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

In a world filled with #fakenews and social-media rumor mongering, it’s still a no-no to tell lies about someone in a manner that harms their reputation.

For that reason, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett may end up on the wrong side of the “v” in a lawsuit filed by Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Rudolph’s agents and lawyer, Timothy Younger, has published a statement on Twitter that makes clear the possibility that Rudolph will be suing Garrett for defamation of character, based on the allegation that Rudolph used a racial slur before Garrett attacked Rudolph with his own helmet.

“Mr. Garrett maliciously uses this false allegation to coax sympathy, hoping to be excused for what clearly is inexcusable behavior,” Younger writes. “Despite other players and the referee being in the immediate vicinity, there are zero corroborating witnesses — as confirmed by the NFL. Although Mr. Rudolph had hoped to move forward, it is Mr. Garrett who has decided to utter this defamatory statement — in California. He is now exposed to legal liability.”

The reference to California isn’t gratuitous or accidental. The civil courts in California are regarded as being more favorable to the rights of those who make claims, both as to the juries who resolve the cases, the trial judges who hear them, and the appeals courts that craft the applicable legal principles.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Todd Haley is an offensive coordinator again...at a High School.

Todd Haley hired as offensive coordinator at a Sarasota high school

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

Todd Haley’s been out of the NFL since being fired as the Browns offensive coordinator in 2018, but he has landed another coaching job for the 2020 season.

Haley has agreed to become the offensive coordinator at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida. Haley has a home in the area and watched film with the school’s head coach Josh Smithers after being introduced by a mutual friend. That led to Smithers reaching out to Haley when the school’s previous offensive coordinator left for another job.

“We talked about the high school game being different than the pro game,” Saunders said, via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “And he was all fired up, just to get out there and coach football again. He understands these are high school kids who go to school all day and you get them for a couple of hours versus people who do it for a job. He told me he’s excited just to teach quarterbacks how to read coverages and receivers how to run better routes. And I think that’s where he’s going to be able to excel. His ability to understand defensive coverages and have an answer for everything.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Joe Gilliam established himself as the best QB in camp.
Chuck Noll was considering starting an African-American at QB to open the season
Guys in the room knew Joe had the talent, and Chuck was going to start the most productive player#1974SteelersThread#BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/V4TwxRlcPs

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 15, 2020

Week 1, 1974#Steelers #Colts
For the first time in NFL history, an African-American is an opening day starter at QB
Joe Gilliam (17-31-257-2-1) beat Bradshaw out for the job with a stellar camp, and that play would continue in this game.#BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/X6RJ5xlH31

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 15, 2020

The ‘74 #Steelers draft class makes its debut, Stallworth (2-25),Swann (2-94-1), Lambert, Webster and Shell (UDFA).@Lynn88Swann 1st TD catch is a 54 yard bomb from Joe.#HereWeGo start on 30-0 over Baltimore #1974SteelersThread pic.twitter.com/rfLVPNkDPf

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 15, 2020

Joe Gilliam to @Lynn88Swann
This was Lynn’s first TD catch#BlackHistoryMonth #HereWeGo #DeepThrowThread pic.twitter.com/hNHhpqrmtP

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 15, 2020

The 1954 Steelers finished 5-7.
Finks 164-306-2003-14-19
Rogel 111-415-1
Mathews 44-652-6
Cameron 7 INT’s
Butler 4-75-2 pick 6
Stautner 3 FR 1 INT#1954SteelersThread pic.twitter.com/OVMKiDcLd8

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 15, 2020

Mason Rudolph, Mike Tomlin respond to Myles Garrett’s accusations

Sat, 02/15/2020 - 12:26pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After Garrett’s interview with ESPN, Rudolph continues to deny the allegations with the support of his head coach

Following the interview by ESPN’s Mina Kime‘s with recently reinstated Cleveland Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph did not let the accusations go without response.

1000% False.

Bold-Faced Lie.

I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial-slur.

This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character. https://t.co/mZcEcC0tCl

— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) February 15, 2020

But Rudolph was not the only of the Pittsburgh Steelers to comment on the situation. Through the Steelers PR department, Mike Tomlin officially released a statement about the situation in regards to Mason Rudolph.

Statement from #Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin: pic.twitter.com/w3LIKZ7ivq

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) February 15, 2020

Tomlin giving his opinion on the subject is quite interesting at this point of the year. Usually steering clear from these types of situations and not releasing statements on anything at this point of the season, Tomlin felt the need to stand up for his quarterback.

Tomlin’s statement speaks for itself. Pointing out how the story changed a week later from what it was the night of the incident speaks volumes. But in looking at why Tomlin made the statement can tell even more. What would the Steelers gain by backing Rudolph if the accusations were true? There is really no benefit in defending their player at this point unless they are confident they are backing up the truth. And for the Steelers to respond officially so quickly should be very telling that they believe the accusations of Garrett to be completely false.

With Myles Garrett choosing to continue his accusations of Mason Rudolph, it has drawn the attention of Rudolph’s agent. The following is a statement shared via picture on Twitter by Younger & Associates/QB Limited.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Rudolph and his agent decided to not pursue criminal charges for the assault on the field. But since Garrett has now added the assault of Rudolph’s character, the incident may very well end up in a courtroom. One thing we can assuming more than anything is the situation appears to not be going away any time soon.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Estimating what T.J. Watt’s legacy could be with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Sat, 02/15/2020 - 11:10am
Watt may already be the best player on the current roster but what will it take for him to become the G.O.A.T? | Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Just how good could T.J. Watt be? Let’s talk about that...

T.J. Watt has quickly ascended into one of the most beloved players on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ current roster. In three seasons he's already been a finalist for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, a finalist for the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2-time Pro-Bowler (2018-19), an All-Pro, and the team MVP in 2019. He’s continued to get better each and every week and is just about to hit the prime of his career.

Watt is due to explode in the next few seasons, likely hitting highs a Steelers outside linebacker has never reached. If I'm being honest, a 20 sack, 10 forced fumble season doesn't appear out of the question for the youngest Watt brother.

If Watt were to average 13 sacks-a-season over the next 5 years he’d be sitting at 99.5 career sacks and the all-time Steelers sack leader by 19 sacks.

At just 30 years old!

So what would it take for Watt to become recognized by Steelers Nation as its best all-time outside linebacker, modern defensive player, or even best defensive/overall player in franchise history?

Let's start small and work our way up.

Outside Linebacker

Who he’s chasing: James Harrison

Most important stat: Sacks (80.5)

What he has to do: Given how James Harrison’s tenure ended I think he has made it easier for Watt to supplant him in the minds of Steelers fans. I think the most important thing Watt has to achieve for this title is simply out sacking Harrison at a fairly-young age. A conservative estimate could see Watt breaking the century sack mark at the age of 31, meaning he could become the Steelers sack king near the end of his 7th pro season.

Likelihood: Very likely

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Watt could quickly make a name for himself as the greatest pass rusher in Steelers history. This mans legacy stands in his way Modern Defensive Player

Who he’s chasing: Troy Polamalu

Things he must achieve: A Super Bowl championship, 1-2 Defensive Player of the Year awards, a long and healthy career

What does he have to do: Things get increasingly harder for Watt to surpass the 2020 Hall-of-Famer’s legacy. But it’s not impossible. If Watt can consistently be the considered one of the best linebackers in football over the next decade, break some records, win awards, and bring another ring to the ‘burgh, I could see Steelers fans one day calling Watt the best defensive player of the last 40-50 years (considering the year would be around 2035). Where the crack lies is in longevity. Yes, Troy was forced to retire before he wanted to, and yes he did lose 4 or more games due to injury in 4 of his 12 seasons. If Watt could play 15+ seasons with the majority of those seasons ending with All-Pro nominations he could quite possibly build a resume worthy of surpassing Polamalu’s legacy.

Likelihood: Unlikely

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images Troy is one of the most creative and exciting players in Football history All-time Defensive player/G.O.A.T

Who he's chasing: Joe Greene

Things he must achieve: Multiple Championships, 2-3 Defensive Player of the Years, near or breaking Bruce Smith’s all-time NFL sack mark.

Things he must achieve: For starters, we must remind ourselves that Joe Greene is one of the greatest football players to ever step on the field. Anyone who could be ranked near or at that level is a very special player.

Another thing we should consider is that since the start of the free agency era winning multiple championships is increasingly more difficult. Winning two championships in today’s NFL is equally impressive to winning 4 in an era where you don't lose any players.

That being said, Watt would have to go on an absolute burner, I’m not kidding when I say he wouldn't just have to play at a DPOY pace, but an MVP pace. To think if he retired with 180 sacks, 2 DPOYs, and 2 Super Bowl rings, people would still question if he's even worthy of being in the same conversation as Mean Joe. He’d probably have to do all that plus some sort of legendary play that goes down in NFL history, or have a season with a stat line so absurd that even non-football fans would be standing around talking about.

Even then, there are some fans that will never changed their belief that Joe Greene is the greatest Steeler of all-time. No matter the stat line, or awards won, or what they do for the community. To many he’ll always be the G.OA.T.

Likelihood: Virtually impossible

Photo by: Diamond Image/Getty Images The greatest Steeler of all time. Mean Joe Greene.

Is it a bit ridiculous to bring this up now, just three seasons into T.J.’s career? Yes. But he's shown flashes and put up numbers unlike any Steelers player in recent history within those years.

So what do you think? What do you think T.J. Watt’s Steeler legacy will be? How many sacks do you think he'd retire with?

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